Proud to be Chair of Santa Rosa YPN

As most of you may know, Michael Cook is the 2011 Chair of the Santa Rosa Regional Young Professionals Network.  During the past 9 months, Michael has spent countless hours running this organization with the YPN Advisory Board’s (16 young Sonoma County leaders) and Kelly Bass’ (Chamber of Commerce staff to YPN) assistance and input.  If you are a member of the Santa Rosa YPN, you know we put on many great events that all are geared towards the Young Professional in Sonoma County.  You also should have received the document below, our 2011 Update.

Santa Rosa YPN’s 2011 Update

We are so proud of our accomplishments during the past 9 months (and over 3 years from the beginning of the organization).  It is a great honor to serve the members of YPN as Chair for 2011 and I look forward to being a part of this organization for several years to come!

Thank you to all of our Board members, YPN members and Corporate sponsors for 2011, we look forward to closing out the year with some amazing events (one at Infineon that you should not miss! and our Signature Event on October 29, 2011 that you definitely should not miss!)!
If you are interested in the Young Professionals Network and would like to come check it out, we have a couple of guest passes that we can get you in the door to see what YPN is all about!


What can you do to save water? Xerescaping is one option!

A great article in the Press Democrat this morning regarding xerescaping and drought-tolerant landscape installations!

Easy tips for xerescaping

You don’t have to have a garden full of desert plants to save on water



It’s the rare garden that isn’t faced with patches of poor soil, occasional drought or diva plants that scream for attention.  I’ve worked in gardens like that, and I’m sure you have, too. Years ago, I thought that bearing down and persevering through these ordeals was what put super-gardeners ahead of the pack.

Then I realized that smart gardeners work with their environments, rather than trying to go head-tohead with Mother Nature.  The word for it is “xerescaping,” from the Greek “xeros,” meaning “dry.” Despite sounding like it would produce nothing but a desert full of cactus, xerescaping is really a simple, five-step method of commonsense, low-maintenance techniques for creating a beautiful garden in most any part of the country. Step 1.

It’s all in the plan. A landscape plan helps balance beauty and conservation to create a budgetsaving, step-by-step map for building the garden a bit at a time.  Start with water conservation.  Map out areas for plants with low, moderate and high water needs, as well as places that can be left totally to nature. Keep moderate- and high-water-use zones small.

Step 2.

Reduce or replace. Lawns are a ubiquitous part of the classic American dream, but are gluttons for fertilizer, water and your time.  Replace turf or at least reduce such grassy areas to where they’re really useful, such as a play zone for the kids or to absorb water in low areas or to retain soil on a hillside.  Install drought-tolerant grasses such as buffalo grass, or low-spreading groundcovers like creeping juniper, thyme or St John’s wort.

Step 3.

Plant for durability and beauty. Xerescapes don’t have to look any different from traditional gardens, although they can reflect any garden style you choose.  The key is matching soil and water requirements to the plants you want to grow in the various zones of your landscape plan. You can easily combine native plants with non-natives if the latter can adapt to your soil, climate and rainfall.  My friend Nan Sterman’s garden in San Diego offers living proof of this. The entire garden is a stunning blend of natives and exotics, yet all with comparable growing conditions.

Many Mediterranean plants, like lavender (Lavandula spp.), Russian 0sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) and sedums (Sedum spp.), are also water-conserving and hardy to surprisingly harsh winter conditions.  But in the event you want to grow marginally hardy or very thirsty plants, for example, group them together in those areas where they won’t be forgotten and with access to important resources like water or where supplemental shade is readily available.

Out of sight often means out of mind, too.

Step 4:

Mulch. Mulch is probably the best thing you can do for a garden, but it’s especially appropriate for xerics. It shades the soil, keeps roots cool, reduces evaporation and helps keep weeds under control. In the winter, it insulates plant stems and crowns from freezes.  Mulch can be inorganic material, such as stones or gravel, or organic, such as ground bark, shredded leaves or wood chips. Apply a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer around plants, while leaving a few inches bare around the stems.

Step 5:

Water wisely. Even when following the xeric principles, some parts of your garden will need extra moisture.  Group plants with similar irrigation needs into watering zones, using ultra-efficient, low-volume irrigation systems like bubbler or drip hoses.  And be sure to place your drip system on a timer for maximum efficiency.  The intent is not so much for the water to come on automatically based on a predetermined schedule; it’s more for making sure that when you do water, it shuts off without you having to remember to do it.

Turning pages

I was at the symphony last night, and saw something that really struck me.  Yo Yo Ma was playing Hindemith’s Cello Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony, when, in a pause of his playing, he motioned his bow towards his music.  The air conditioning in the symphony hall can cause music pages to turn, and this is what MTT, the conductor, must have thought.  Because, moments after Ma pulled his bow back, and starting a long passage of playing, MTT, now thinking that Ma’s music was on the wrong page, turned the sheet of music for him, and held then held it there with one hand, while conducting the rest of the orchestra with the other.  After a while, MTT removed his hand, and the page stayed where he had held it.  About 20 seconds later, Ma turned the page back to where it was, not missing a beat.  The air conditioning had not turned the page, he was simply motioning his bow to the next part of the score he would play.  Better yet, while MTT held Ma’s music to the wrong page, Ma played as if it was exactly what he needed, and played brilliantly.  He didn’t look panicked, he didn’t try and turn the page out of MTT”s hand.  He just played by memory, and turned the page when he needed to, and when it was not a distraction to MTT or the rest of the orchestra.

This reminds me about how important it is in business to be ready for any challenge, and to stay cool under pressure.  Many times, a design does not go as planned in the field.  Rather than try and force a design that may not work anymore, we look at all options, and then diplomatically come to a resolution with the contractor, agency, or client.  I think this is one of the many qualities that defines leadership.

— Michael Tarnoff

September 11, 2011: The Landscape Architect that designed the New York Memorial

As we are approaching the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, and as the Memorial in New York begins to take shape, I wanted to share this interview/article with Peter Walker, the Landscape Architect that designed the memorial over the past several years.  A very interesting article and something that shows you more about what Landscape Architects do.